New government department focuses on growth

Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull speaks with Dax Basdeo, the acting chief officer (Financial Services) in the Ministry of Finance, Tourism & Development, to find out more about the rebranding of the Department of Commerce and Investment (formerly known as the Cayman Islands Investment Bureau) and reports.

Why was the DCI created?
The rebrand to the Department of Commerce and Investment occurred because we needed to find a name that clearly communicates what we do. This decision resulted from a combination of new developments re our expanded mandate to manage additional commerce and investment activities as well as feedback received from our interactions with clients over the years. Many of them told us that the name “Investment Bureau” was misleading; in that, entrepreneurs and business owners would come in expecting us to provide financing and we don’t.  
It is our view that the new name is more indicative of the broad economic development type services we provide to our multiple stakeholders. These include local businesses, foreign investors, government bodies, the media etc.

Please explain how the new DCI functions in terms of who it serves?

The Department of Commerce and Investment is responsible for stimulating and facilitating appropriate, long-term, inward and local investment in the Cayman Islands, providing technical assistance to local entrepreneurs and small businesses and linking investors with potential customers, suppliers and other business partners. 
We therefore serve two main audiences – local businesses and international investors with a strong interest in doing business here.

How does it do this?
Distinct operational units within the department have been set up to cater to our varied audiences these are:

  1. Investment Support Services Unit: responsible for attracting and facilitating the interest of foreign investors pursuing business opportunities in the Cayman Islands;
  2. Small Business Development Unit: an evolution in the existing programme structure, this new unit will be continue to provide technical assistance to local small business owners and entrepreneurs.
  3. Cayman Islands Film Commission: tasked with attracting and facilitating the interest of foreign film and television producers in the use of the Cayman Islands as a filming location 
  4. The Trade & Business Licensing Secretariat: governs the business licensing requirements and is the common thread between foreign and locally-owned businesses.

Who are the principal individuals that make up the DCI?
Director  Dax Basdeo and Deputy Director Pat Ulett
Lesley-Ann Thompson – head of marketing
Shannon Francis – investor services officer
Charmaine Moss – small business advisor
Dwene Ebanks – small business advisor
Lolita Bodden – small business advisor
Linda McField – accounting officer
Kevin Goring – senior graphic designer
Angela Mowbray – executive officer
Marina Nembhard – TBL
Renee Rankin – TBL
Arisdalmis Parchment- TBL
Maribeth McLean- TBL
Samone Morgan- TBL

Position being recruited – head of business development and senior investor services officer

What are the main focus areas for the DCI this year?

To continue to work on the evolution of the small business services – greater emphasis on partnerships with commercial lenders and professional services firms;

  • To work on revising the Trade & Business Licensing Law and Local Company (Control) Licence Law;
  • Get consensus on national investment strategy  and set priority areas for focus;
  • And build on work already started in film (i.e. with a view to bringing at least one project to fruition by year end and simultaneously nurturing local projects where we can to strengthen skill sets and broaden crew experience)

And further into the future?
Explore the adoption of legislation supporting fair competition / fair trade and a commission to support this law.
T&B licensing has just moved into the DCI’s remit. Are there any other government departments likely to follow suit?
Not at this time.

Anything else you may wish to add?
I’m very happy with the current administration’s decision to establish a clear policy framework supporting economic diversification via inward investment. The formation of the National Investment Council has been a good first step. Council members will meet to determine the most appropriate sectors for investment promotion, and address the issues of suitability and feasibility of these sectors in relation to the fit with our needs and capabilities. Senior civil servants on the Investment Advisory Council will support this group by providing the technical input on matters put before them.
At the end of the day, our job is to create new opportunities for the Cayman economy to grow and prosper. Clear policy direction is certainly facilitating our ability to develop and implement appropriate programmes. However, this must be done very strategically so that we can balance growth and development with local linkages.  This ensures that Caymanian businesses will benefit from an improved business climate and that economic growth is sustainable in the long-run.


L_R Patricia Ulett, Angela Mowbray, Kevin Goring,Shannon Francis, Dwene Ebanks, Charmaine Moss, Lolita Bodden.